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Getting What You Want, But Not What You Need - A TMB Review by ConnectTheDots

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  • Getting What You Want, But Not What You Need - A TMB Review by ConnectTheDots

    I have been a fan of the Nancy Drew adventure series since Message in a Haunted Mansion was released. Most games at the beginning of the series overjoyed me, some later on downright angered me, but the most recent games have left me feeling indifferent. After I completed CAP, ASH, and TMB, I would announce it to my family. My sister would ask, "How was it?" and I'd just shrug. After I did this when I finished TMB, she said, "I think you're getting too old for these games." I disagree, but I have wondered lately whether it's worth it for me to continue buying these games if only one out of every four or five games ends up hitting the mark for me. I love collecting them, but when I finish a Nancy Drew game and feel indifferent about it, it's crushing.

    Some fans have talked about how HeR does a good job at pleasing the varying opinions of the fanbase and that there is a game out there for everyone. I would say that they try to please everyone. It's difficult, I know. Some people's top five games are in my bottom five, and vice versa. Some enjoy puzzles, others snooping, and some just want to go to a new location in the game.

    But I think what everyone wants to experience more than anything in a Nancy Drew game is a good mystery, and in my opinion, TMB is just not a good mystery. The plot is not well-constructed, the objective is unclear, and the ending is poorly explained. Even interviewing suspects was redundant, not fun.

    The thing is, though, that some Nancy Drew fans got what they wanted in this game. They petitioned for a game in Egypt, and they got one. Same with ASH. People asked for a game in River Heights, or a game where they could play as Ned, and they got one. People wanted a game in Japan, and they got SAW.

    What sits at the center of a Nancy Drew game is the mystery, and I feel like HeR has forgotten that in the past few games. New interfaces are fine (I actually liked it, for the most part), swapping perspectives like in ASH is fun in small doses (these are Nancy Drew games, after all), having a bunch of fun puzzles is okay, and putting a game in a fun, new location that fans have wanted to go to is great as long as the mystery itself is not getting glossed over.

    I think that when HeR gets the mystery right, they produce their most widely approved games. They just haven't been getting it right lately. For that reason, I would not recommend TMB.
    Last edited by ConnectTheDots; May 16, 2012, 10:41 AM.
    My reviews - STFD, MHM, TRT, FIN, SSH, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CUR, CLK,
    TRN, DAN, CRE, ICE, VEN, HAU, RAN, WAC, SAW, CAP, ASH, TMB, DED, GTH and SPY

  • #2
    Originally posted by ConnectTheDots View Post
    I think that when HeR gets the mystery right, they produce their most widely approved games. They just haven't been getting it right lately. For that reason, I would not recommend TMB.
    You are certainly entitled to your opinion, ConnectTheDots. However, your statement that HER produces "their most widely approved games" when "they get the mystery right" is your opinion. I personally don't have any sales figures to substantiate or not substantiate your opinion that HER is missing the mark. It would be interesting to check out their sales figures on the last few games and see if they are selling more or less than in times past.

    You are one of several who is disappointed in TMB. However, if you read Rianna's poll, 15% of those who responded gave TMB 8/10, 22% a 9/10 and 37% a 10/10. This is in stark contrast to a few people who have given less than favorable reviews of TMB. The comments on Rianna's poll are very favorable.

    I suspect that unless a substantial number of fans quit buying the ND games and there is a big dent in their sales figures, HER will continue producing ND games. I, for one, found TMB very entertaining. I thought the objective very clear-- to find the tomb of the lost queen. The only criticism I have is that I wanted a suspenseful game. I do think HER needs to work on their suspense factor.

    Thanks for taking the time to post your opinion. I do think HER listens to their fans. You might think about sending them a private email about your feelings. I don't think it would be ignored. ~Jas
    GHOST OF THORNTON HALL . . . . . . Dare to Play!

    Comment


    • #3
      You make fair points, Jas. I always forget about/ignore the polls at the top of the board for some reason. I am surprised that so many people love this game. I wish I could understand where they’re coming from. I definitely share your opinion about the lack of suspense.

      If the objective of the game was to find the tomb of the lost queen, then what was the point of having suspects? Or maybe the objective was to find the tomb of the lost queen and hope that the person who is sabotaging the dig reveals him/herself in due time? How did the culprit's motive fit in with the acts of sabotage? The more I think about it, the more confused I get and it doesn't help that the culprit basically says that they don't have to explain anything. The suspect/culprit plot of this game is what I take issue with.

      As others have pointed out, the lack of a letter or case file at the beginning of the game left me feeling disoriented, and I think that carried throughout the game. That was my only problem with the new interface.

      Anyway, thanks for reading! I am happy that so many people really enjoyed this game. I guess I will just have to read some more reviews to figure out why.
      Last edited by ConnectTheDots; May 16, 2012, 06:34 PM.
      My reviews - STFD, MHM, TRT, FIN, SSH, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CUR, CLK,
      TRN, DAN, CRE, ICE, VEN, HAU, RAN, WAC, SAW, CAP, ASH, TMB, DED, GTH and SPY

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ConnectTheDots View Post
        But I think what everyone wants to experience more than anything in a Nancy Drew game is a good mystery, and in my opinion, TMB is just not a good mystery. The plot is not well-constructed, the objective is unclear, and the ending is poorly explained. Even interviewing suspects was redundant, not fun.
        ConnectTheDots, you hit the nail right on the head. For me, at least. Couldn't have said it better myself.

        MysteryEye, though I whole heartedly agree with ConnectTheDots, (and I believe they were just expressing their opinion as an opinion, not as fact (: ) you have a good point by using evidence through the ratings.

        The sad truth is (completely according my opinion) is that some players, maybe the younger ones, I can't determine which exactly for obvious reasons, (and I don't want to generalize or stereotype) aren't looking for good character and plot development in most cases. So a mystery that seems horrible to me (such as TMB) will appeal to them because they love Nancy games. I love them too. I just detested TMB for many reasons.

        Anything that's selling well, a company most likely won't change. Obviously, that's the way business works, and I respect HER for listening to their fans, but I believe that as long as the games keep selling as they do, no major changes to accommodate for certain pleas centered around character/plot will be addressed.
        It's never too late to be who you might have been...[ George Eliot ]



        reviews:TMBxASHxCAPxSAWxRANxHAUxVEN

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by oceanxatlantic View Post
          Anything that's selling well, a company most likely won't change. Obviously, that's the way business works, and I respect HER for listening to their fans, but I believe that as long as the games keep selling as they do, no major changes to accommodate for certain pleas centered around character/plot will be addressed.
          Thanks for responding, oceanxatlantic. What you said in the above paragraph makes a lot more sense than what I said, though I wish it didn't. =P I admire HeR, and I know that they listen to their fans (since they put games in Japan, River Heights and Egypt like fans petitioned for) but if the games are selling even better than they used to, then perhaps you are correct about the character/plot concerns.

          Maybe ND fans today really are most interested in the puzzles, locations, and mini-games. I've even seen some reviews include sections for phone features, something that was never that big of a concern in earlier years! It's not a bad thing if this is true and people are still enjoying the games. It just means that the games are evolving into something different than the series that I fell in love with.

          That's not to say that those who like the more recent games don't care about the mystery. Maybe I am just not getting the more recent mysteries like those who enjoy the new games are. Maybe ND fans these days don't want the games to tell them exactly what happened but they want to tie the strings together themselves so they're okay with a loose ending. Maybe TMB just went over my head. I don't know.
          Last edited by ConnectTheDots; May 16, 2012, 11:34 PM.
          My reviews - STFD, MHM, TRT, FIN, SSH, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CUR, CLK,
          TRN, DAN, CRE, ICE, VEN, HAU, RAN, WAC, SAW, CAP, ASH, TMB, DED, GTH and SPY

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with you about how the climax and resolution in TMB didn't really make sense. It still don't understand (without giving a spoiler) why the culprit did certain things. There were no clues leading up to the revelation of the culprit; it was suddenly like--"Oh. So that person's it. Aaand all the investigation I did didn't...mean anything...?" All the great mysteries have the culprit right in your face--but with cleverly disguised clues and red herrings, you never suspect the person. And then when he or she is revealed, you're like, "Why didn't I see that? That makes so much sense!" The TMB culprit was nothing like that.

            It may be true that HeR is targeting their younger players as to how they construct the games, which is not so great for me! And I don't know if it's just because, y'know, most of my friends are my age, but I do not know any younger kids who play these games. Everyone I know is a "veteran," the people who played they very first ones when they came out. It'd be interesting to see some statistics as to age/gender of the players.

            I have seen several people on the boards say that they do not plan on purchasing the next game, myself included. I wonder how this will effect sales this fall.

            Comment


            • #7
              Oceanxatlantic, I totally agree with you about the sales. I don't think it hurts, though, to send HER private emails about what you think about the games. You never know what they will respond to. If they get enough fans telling them the games lack mystery, they might sit up and take notice. Or maybe suggest they poll the fans concerning plot/mystery. They have polled fans in the past in the Notes from HerInteractive section on what their fans think "snooping" means, e.g.

              As someone pointed out in their TMB review, there is a budget constraint on HER, as there is on all profit-making companies. They have a limited budget to put out a game. And I would think they have to tailor the prime focus of their games to what they consider their target market, which is likely the preteen/teen age groups.

              It would be interesting to see what the bulk of their fans think about the importance of plot and the importance of a mystery storyline.

              Some fans probably don't place that much emphasis on those things and maybe other details are more important, as ConnectTheDots pointed out in her post. I am thinking now of movies you go see and the plot is complicated, e.g., or virtually nonexistent, and you leave the movie theatre scratching your head, wondering what the plot was all about, but there were enough special effects and action scenes in the movie to make you not really care that much while you're watching. That kind of movie might be a big hit from a box office sales perspective, but might lack the style and literary flair of a more sophisticated movie.

              I admitted in my review that the plot was a bit confusing in TMB. I think it would have helped if more clarification had been given at the beginning of the story. ~Jas
              Last edited by MysteryEye; May 17, 2012, 06:09 AM.
              GHOST OF THORNTON HALL . . . . . . Dare to Play!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ConnectTheDots View Post
                Maybe ND fans today really are most interested in the puzzles, locations, and mini-games. I've even seen some reviews include sections for phone features, something that was never that big of a concern in earlier years! It's not a bad thing if this is true and people are still enjoying the games. It just means that the games are evolving into something different than the series that I fell in love with.
                Oh my gosh. Yes. Exactly. To be honest, the concept of phone charms (which are clearly sticking around for now) has come to the point of actually disgusting me. (This isn't meant to offend anyone, just my own opinion, and if you like phone charms that I'm happy you can be positive about this aspect of the game and have fun with it;I respect your preferences as well)

                My reasoning for this kind of disgust? When I buy a Nancy Drew game, I buy it for the mystery. That's the type of game it is, is it not? I used to love ND games for their perfect balance--not gory or horrifying like some rated T mystery games, but not hokey little children's games. Nothing is wrong with either of these genres of games, but ND games were right where I liked them, right in the middle: dangerous, intriguing mysteries with no dead bodies or anything of that nature.

                Now I feel they're becoming...hmm how do I explain this? Consider this metaphor:

                It's as if I was reading a newspaper, with a hard-hitting story about a jewel theft or what have you, and suddenly, the paper in my hands morphed in a magazine; suddenly I was reading an article called 101 Ways to Make Your Vacation in Egypt Fabulous!

                I used to not mind phone charms, mini games, and those types of things, but when they start to eclipse the mystery, I'm not happy.

                I want to solve a case, to snoop and be followed, to be in danger, to discover secrets, to actually have the opportunity to tactfully speak to characters, to watch them develop, to follow along as the intriguing plot unfolds from beneath me---

                NOT collect phone charms.

                As you said, oh-so-perfectly: there is nothing wrong with liking mini games, or collecting trinkets. Some people enjoy that, and that's cool. But to me, the series has become a completely different kind of series compared to what it used to be.

                I know HeR will create what will sell, and it seems as if they're games are selling well-- I guess I'm just sad and nostalgic for the players who believe that games such as TRT, FIN, SHA-- with no mini games or any of those add-ons, were perfect in their own right.
                Last edited by oceanxatlantic; May 17, 2012, 05:28 PM.
                It's never too late to be who you might have been...[ George Eliot ]



                reviews:TMBxASHxCAPxSAWxRANxHAUxVEN

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by AlwaysTheButler View Post
                  It may be true that HeR is targeting their younger players as to how they construct the games, which is not so great for me! And I don't know if it's just because, y'know, most of my friends are my age, but I do not know any younger kids who play these games. Everyone I know is a "veteran," the people who played they very first ones when they came out. It'd be interesting to see some statistics as to age/gender of the players.

                  I have seen several people on the boards say that they do not plan on purchasing the next game, myself included. I wonder how this will effect sales this fall.
                  Thanks for reading, AlwaysTheButler! I don't know about statistics, but there is a poll created in 2009 on the Case Closed board that asks what everyone's first ND game was, and almost 40% of those polled answered either MHM or TRT. I think that says something about who is playing these games since MHM and TRT aren't widely available in stores anymore (though maybe TRT is still sold in the Triple Threat pack?).

                  As for me, I will read reviews about the next game before I buy it. I just don't want any more mediocre games like TMB to tarnish my opinion of the series as a whole.

                  Originally posted by oceanxatlantic View Post
                  Oh my gosh. Yes. Exactly. To be honest, the concept of phone charms (which are clearly sticking around for now) has come to the point of actually disgusting me.

                  I know HeR will create what will sell, and it seems as if they're games are selling well-- I guess I'm just sad and nostalgic for the players who believe that games such as TRT, FIN, SHA-- with no mini games or any of those add-ons, were perfect in their own right.
                  I definitely hear you about phone charms. I don't think phone charms were in this game, though, at least not the store version. Maybe they were available as a "perk" on the special edition,. There was only one mini-game in TMB, too, I think, so that was nice, and I don't think you had to win to beat the game.
                  My reviews - STFD, MHM, TRT, FIN, SSH, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CUR, CLK,
                  TRN, DAN, CRE, ICE, VEN, HAU, RAN, WAC, SAW, CAP, ASH, TMB, DED, GTH and SPY

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Oh, my bad! The phone charms must only be included in the bonus edition. I pre-ordered and forgot about that detail.
                    It's never too late to be who you might have been...[ George Eliot ]



                    reviews:TMBxASHxCAPxSAWxRANxHAUxVEN

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There were phone charms in the Bonus Edition, which I played. They didn't annoy me. I thought they were fun to find and added humor to the game-- Nancy said, "Oh, ancient Egyptian phone charms!" or something like that, when she found the first one.

                      I think there is a mystery here. Nancy is called in to "uncover the lost secrets buried within the Tomb of the Lost Queen" (from the box cover). So Nancy is not only tasked to find the tomb and the secrets it holds-- something the former archaelogists' team failed to do sixty years ago-- but also figure out who attacked Professor Jon Boyle and why someone would do that.

                      She is hired because of her work at the Beech Museum for the first task, and she rather stumbles on the second. So the "suspects" are people who might have been responsible for the attack on Jon.

                      Anyway, I'm not trying to change your mind, ConnectTheDots, or your mind, Oceanxatlantic. If you want to hate the game, that's absolutely your right. As it is mine to say that I thought TMB was great.

                      I do think that preteens and teens make up the bulk of HER's target market. I would be extremely surprised to see statistics that support the "older" gamers-- meaning people in their 20s and beyond. Just my opinion. ~Jas
                      GHOST OF THORNTON HALL . . . . . . Dare to Play!

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                      • #12
                        Thank you so much for your honest review. Your point about HeR trying to give us what we want, but not the other important things that we also need makes a lot of sense. My mom surprised me with TMB the other day, so I'll be playing it still (I just started and am like five minutes into it,) but I'll know now not to get my expectations up too high. The thing with this game, is that some reviews are extremely positive syaing TMB is reminiscent of the "classics" and others are basically just completely against it! I don't know what to think anymore. Nonetheless, I really appreciate your well-written opinions!
                        -Rach
                        ........ ,•*¨¯¨*•.¸ .. Cause mirrors can’t see your heart
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                        (_¸.•´ ©L.bulldog & Rise Against


                        sorry I've been gone so long.
                        really miss you all!
                        -rachel <3

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                        • #13
                          I never said that there wasn't a mystery. I just said that the mystery wasn't a very good one, meaning that it wasn't well executed or well explained. That debate we can save for another day.

                          Thanks again for contributing to the discussion, Jas. I like getting different perspectives.

                          Thanks for reading, Rach! It is certainly very interesting to hear such different opinions about this game. I hope you enjoy it more than I did!

                          - Emily/ConnectTheDots
                          Last edited by ConnectTheDots; May 17, 2012, 07:21 PM.
                          My reviews - STFD, MHM, TRT, FIN, SSH, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CUR, CLK,
                          TRN, DAN, CRE, ICE, VEN, HAU, RAN, WAC, SAW, CAP, ASH, TMB, DED, GTH and SPY

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Couldn't agree more! I summed up some of the same exact points in my review. It was all very confused. I play for the mystery. I never liked the location but if it was backed up with a suspense-filled mystery I would have delt with it!
                            ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


                            Peace. Love. Run.
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                            • #15
                              ConnectTheDots, I can see what you're saying about the poor quality of the plot. When I first played TMB I was confused at the very beginning and at the very end but I thought that everything in between was great so I thought the game overall was pretty good. However after I replayed it to get all the awards, I experienced the same indifference that you seemed to have. In my opinion I think that if the plot was better explained and more suspenseful that TMB may have become one of my favorites since I pretty much liked everything else (although I admit that all the puzzles were a little tedious, although not too bothersome for me).

                              Also, oceanxatlantic, I completely agree with you about the "gimmicky"-ness of some of the activities in the later games. Often when I would get to the end of one of the newer games and see the awards list I would say, "Why are some of these things on here? Why would I need to do that?" I mean, if you like playing a certain minigame and play it a bunch of times that's great, but when they make it a part of the awards and you don't necessarily like playing it and have to do it x times, it gets annoying. I like the awards that have to do with "side plots" as long as they don't detract too much from the mystery, but having awards for doing something a certain number of times when it has nothing to do with the mystery makes the game feel so gimmicky. It's as if you need to be paying attention to all the other little side things you can do instead of paying attention to the actual mystery. Granted you don't have to play the games to get all the awards, but everyone sees the list at the end of the games, and the fact that the list often contains totally random things that have nothing to do with the mystery makes it seem like HER thinks what's important about the game is all the other things you can do besides the mystery, and that's totally not right.

                              Which is why on more than one occasion I've wondered what it would be like if HER didn't have the awards list anymore. I feel like it detracts a lot from the mystery and turns the game into a more "achievement" based game rather than a mystery-solving game (I mean, shouldn't solving the mystery be the greatest achievement?). I don't necessarily want HER to get rid of minigames and phone charms, but I would just like it if they didn't make it so blatantly obvious that they should be a part of the game when they're definitely not. I think that it would be a much better idea if they went back to the "certificate" type awards that were in some of the older games. If you found some side-plot related thing or played a minigame a lot you'd get rewarded for it, but you wouldn't feel like you were obligated to do other things that you didn't need or want to do. Just a suggestion, but I doubt it will change.
                              ~*My reviews and my petition!*~
                              *Ransom of the Seven Ships
                              *Warnings at Waverly Academy
                              *Trail of the Twister
                              *Secrets Can Kill - Remastered
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                              *Tomb of the Lost Queen

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